Monday, January 28, 2013


Some standouts of January

Fatty Cue
Had a pretty good experience at the original Fatty Cue (in BK) when they first opened; although I remember leaving feeling like we didn't get much food for the price. I left the Fatty Cue in the West Village feeling the same way. The food itself was good, but not good enough to bring me back. We walked into a pretty empty restaurant; but it gained momentum as the night went on. The kitchen brings out stuff shotgun style, so when its done--they bring it out.

I started with a Fatty Manhattan-- a Manhattan made with some cherry cola syrup and waited for our food to arrive.  Both lamb and pork ribs were both tastey. The pork ribs were made with a fish sauce which offended some at our table; but I thought the flavor was pretty good. Pappardelle with goat was probably the most disappointing dish we had; but it wasn't bad! The duck laab was pretty delicious and would even give Kin Shop a run for its money; but portion size is what killed this restaurant. And although they have some delicious deep fried bacon, I probably won't be going back!

Frankies Spuntino 570
A Spuntino is defined as an informal meal/snack or a casual Italian eatery. It was only fitting that the place would be called Frankies Spuntino after all conceived by both Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli. They started their vision with their original outpost in Carroll Gardens on Court Street. The original, Frankies 457 was so popular that it led way to other Frankie collaborations like Prime Meats, Cafe Pedlar, and Frankies 570. 

After wine tasting at both Maialino and Terroir, we ended here on Hudson Street for some food and drink. We started off with some blanc de margeux and some crostini. All the crostini were delicious especially the ricotta/honey/provolone and the kale with harissa aoli. Cremini mushrooms with truffle oil and chickpea with guanciale also were good bites. The oxtail pappardelle was a bit disappointing as I felt like it lacked seasoning. We had moved onto a bottle of 2002 Etna Rossa by Callabretta which was great especially considering its value on their list. 

For dessert Kelly brought us out one of their signature desserts--red wine prunes and marscapone. Although prunes don't excite me, the dessert was pretty good! 

Good spot with casual, comfortable atmosphere. Big thanks to Kelly O!

MarkJoseph Steak House
Depressing to see how many restaurants/stores in the seaport are still closed from Sandy. Unfortunately some of those restaurants will not be returning. Though being closed for a few weeks after Sandy, MarkJoseph steakhouse is up and running. The restaurant is blocked by construction, so its not an easy find. Good food and friendly service. Sat at the bar and enjoyed their restaurant week menu. Their started were quite boring so I went with the good old caesar salad followed by their steak sandwich. The steak sandwich was pretty good. The meat itself was tender and succulent; but the sandwich was loaded with mozzarella cheese. They could have dialed down the cheese, but nonetheless it was still delicious. Ended with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I think the $25 price tag was pretty good considering the quality of meat in the steak sandwich. The appetizer and dessert were just an added bonus!

I'll have to go back for a dinner!

ABC Kitchen
Great vibe and cool space; but alittle weary about "Call me maybe" playing in the background. Sat at the second bar in the back, thats is more like a dining counter considering they don't serve drinks from this bar--thought that was a bit strange too. Waited forever for our food, but it was delicious when it arrived. Good experience here; but service could be tightened up a bit. Definitely a place to check out. Go for lunch and experience one of NYC best pre-fixe lunches. 

Gramercy Tavern
Love this place! Hospitality and service at its best. Enjoyed a funky Malvasia (La Stoppa, Ageno, 2007) from Emilia-Romagna and a Pinot Blanc (Prieler, Seeberg, 2011) from Austria while enjoying some roasted oysters. GT's roasted oysters with hot sauce is a must get. 

Went for lunch as well and they spoiled us! Started off with a cauliflower puree with trout roe which had great flavor. We then moved onto roasted oysters and duck liver mousse. This was the first time I had the duck liver and it was a home-run. First off they served warm, grilled bread which was awesome. I was telling Jackie how much I enjoyed a warm bread without the crunch. Pickled veggies accompanied the liver mousse and gave the dish an acidity that balanced out the richness. 

Duck Liver Mousse @ Gramercy Tavern

Our next course was two salads sent out compliments of the kitchen. I think I ate them so fast that I forget what was in them!

For entrees we got the arctic char and the cobia. The arctic char was served with sweet potato, yellow eyed peas, and a ridiculous lobster sauce. The cobia was served with mushrooms, bok choy, and potato dumplings. Both were awesome!

Cobia @ Gramercy Tavern

Old Town Bar
Exactly like the name of the bar suggest, this is a bar thats been around awhile and has won the hearts of many. 
Lady kicking dropped fork from table to kitchen only made me fall more in love with this place. 

Pete's Tavern
Another mainstay in the area. The bartenders are cool if you're not an asshole. So don't be an asshole and you'll have a good time. 

Flatiron Lounge
Great cocktails by Jared. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Another meal to remember

In 2011, I dined at Marea as an end of the year celebration with Dan and Suzanne and posted that it was my best meal of the year. Since that time, I've only been there once for lunch. Marea isn't an everyday restaurant but rather a special occasion place. Located on some of the most expensive real estate in the world, this restaurant on Central Park South attracts a wealthy clientele. Marea is chef Michael White's ode to Italian seafood. The menu is a tribute to the sea with an extensive selection of crudo, oysters, caviar, seasonal fish dishes, and whole fish. Not to mention a primi section dominated with house made pastas showcasing "frutti di mare". But for those who don't like seafood, there are some great options for the carnivore.

Upon entrance you walk up to the host stand as they stand firm at attention. I was the first to arrive, so I checked my coat and headed to the bar. Getting a drink at the Marea bar proves to be difficult All the seats were taken and the bartenders don't look at you unless you are seated. I stood around for a good 10 minutes trying to make eye contact; but had no luck. The rest of my party showed up so we headed to the table.

Our dinner was set up by Liz, our wine director, as a fun and educational dinner. She is friends with the  wine director at Marea so they set up an amazing lineup of some truly awesome wines. Blake, Chase, Pete, and myself started with our cocktails as we waited for Liz. A negroni seemed like a great apertivo for a big meal. Liz arrived and we popped some bubbly. We started with a 98 Billecart-Salmon, a blend of Grand Cru vineyards in the Cote des Blancs. I was impressive with the perlage and its persistence given the age. It was a great balance of persistence and weight. This champagne was showcasing beautiful aromas of white flowers, citrus, and subtle brioche while giving off a richness that kept me going back for more.

As we sipped our champagne and looked over the menu, the staff brought us our some starters. Sea urchin with lardo/sea salt, housemade sea salt montecato (baccala), and shishito peppers were great bites to start this epic meal. We ended up doing the pre-fixe and sharing everything.

For our second course we had two Fiorano's, a 88' semillion and and 93' Malvasia. If the history of the Fioranos weren't interested enough, the wines were marvelous. I sipped the rare white wines and found myself extremely happy especially because our antipasta course had just touched down. Crudo like bigeye tuna (oyster crema/crispy sunchoke), seared pacific wahoo (wild mushroom/lobster roe), and pacific snapper (herbs/grapefruit/chevril) were all delicate and showcased White's ability to add subtle flavors without overpowering the main component. Mermaid Cove oysters and seasonal appetizers like grilled octopus and nantucket bay scallops were also part of our first course. The grilled octopus was paired with smoked potatoes, pickled red onions, radishes, chilies, and a tastey tonnato sauce. The scallops were also quite wonderful as they were pan roasted and paired with grapefruit, polenta, fennel, and salsify.

Next was our pasta course and Terrance (the sommelier) brought over a 2005 Morey Saint Denis Domaine Dujac which I was super excited for. Fusilli with red wine braised octopus and bone marrow is probably my favorite pasta dish in NYC so we got two for the table. We also got ferrantini with a duck ragu, short rib ravioli, a mushroom risotto, and baccala ravioli  (with black trumpet mushrooms, baby leeks, black truffle jus, & shaved black truffle). All the pastas were very good although my favorite remains the fusilli.

An 89' Barolo from Aldo Conterno was up next and had been decanting for a few hours at this point. Pairing this wine with 50 day dry-aged creekstone beef seemed liked a match made in heaven. The steak was served with bone marrow panzanella and braised romaine. The guinea hen was another table favorite which only speaks to White's skill in both land and sea creatures. The guinea hen was served with porcini mushrooms, sunchokes, brussel sprouts,pearl onion, and apple. More scallops appeared but this time they were served with roasted cauliflowers, endive, currants, and capers. A seafood stew known as a brodetto was another great entree that mixed together prawns, scallops, bass, and mussels in a super flavorful broth. Grilled cuttlefish also made it onto the table, but didn't leave a lasting impression. I think I enjoyed the meat dishes so much that the seafood dishes seemed an afterthought. I remember them being delicious, but I also remember looking around the table hoping the steak and guinea hen would make it back around.

By the time dessert came around, we decided we needed more wine so Terrance blind tasted us on something he thought we'd like. He threw us a curve ball with a wine from Corsica--a French island west of Italy and southeast of the French mainland. The wine was bright and fruit forward which was a nice pairing for dessert. After dessert, we indulged in some espresso and amaro. Another amazing meal at Marea. Big thanks for Liz for organizing!

Last Weeks of 2012

456 restaurant
Solid Chinatown spot

weathers up
With two locations, Weather Up is a cocktail bar that serves up great cocktails and small bites. Like many cocktail bars, there isn't much staff so be prepared to wait. But the wait is worth it as the bar team prepares both classics and modern favorites. Sit at the bar to chat up the bar keep or cozy into a booth for a more private experience. 

ward 3
Just a few blocks away from Weather Up, Ward 3 is a cocktail bar in Tribeca that seems a bit more lively. People aren't quietly talking here, but the integrity of the cocktails are that of a good speakeasy. Order a classic or tell the bartender what you like and watch them at work. 

Love the old New York vibe. Definitely a bar worth checking out if in the Gramercy Park area. 

momofuku noodle bar 
Ippudo closed early on a day that i had a ramen craving so I headed over to Momofuku Noodle Bar for a delicious bowl of ramen. Start with pork buns made with super tender pork belly, shitake, scallion, cucumber and a sweet hoisin sauce. Move on to a bowl of ramen whether its momofuku signature ramen-- pork belly, pork shoulder, and poached egg or one of their other selections like their smoked miso chicken. 

I like the atmosphere at Momofuku because its not a dark basement like other ramen spots. Although that secret, underground setting is awesome--sometimes its nice to have some natural night shine in. Grab a seat at the main bar where the chefs prepare your food or sit by the window and people watch on First Avenue (It often feels therapeutic on a rainy day) Also the music selection is always pretty awesome whether its the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Nas. Momofuku keeps the authenticity of a great ramen shop through its flavorful food; but adapts it to New York City's urban community. I think its a spot everyone should check out atleast once. 

In the winter, I think its safe to say I go here every 2 weeks. 

salvation taco
It was kind of surprise to everyone when April Bloomfield opened Salvation Taco in the Pod 39 hotel on the east side of 39th Street. Not only is it a weird part of town, in a weird hotel; but its a Mexican concept! What does April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman-- partners of the Spotted Pig, Breslin, and John Dory know about Mexican fare? Go to Salvation Taco and she will show you! Bloomfield collaborated with Roberto Santibanez of Brooklyn's Fonda to keep somewhat authentic while using her own style. Her food done though a traditional Mexican lens. 

The food is quite good. A bunch of us went for lunch so we thought it was only right to order everything on the menu. We started with their "Snacks" section which had spicy beer nuts, crispy pig ears, ceviche verde con chicharones, tomatillo/jicama salad, pork belly/pineapple salad, and chips/guacamole. We progressed into the tacos. Roasted cauliflower with curried crema, skirt steak with pecan/chopotle, and lamb breast on 'naan were all really good. I think the Moroccan lamb was a table favorite. Next we got Tortas--Mexican sandwiches. Grilled lamb tongue, braised short rib, confit chicken thigh, and seared saichicha all were packed with flavor. The best part of Salvation Taco is the prices. The most expensive menu item is a $9 torta while all the tacos are $3. 

Although the space is a bit strange, Salvation Taco is 
definitely worth trying. Expect the same "want a beer" service and you'll be in for a nice treat. 

Photos by Serious Eats*